How do landspout tornadoes differ from typical tornadoes?

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 11:27 AM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 12:20 PM CDT
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BUREAU COUNTY, Ill. (KWQC) - The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities confirmed two tornadoes from the May 7 severe weather outbreak. One tornado caused damage in West Liberty.

The other was a landspout tornado, spotted by several viewers in rural Bureau County. (The video above features the view from southern Whiteside County).

“We got a twister, folks!,” said TV6 viewer Ethan Oleson, who captured video of the landspout.

While landspouts are a type of tornado, they do not form the same way as a typical tornado.

A landspout is defined as a tornado that does not arise from organized storm-scale rotation and therefore is not associated with a wall cloud (visually) or a mesocyclone (on radar).

A typical tornado forms in a supercell thunderstorm, which is a thunderstorm with a constantly rotating updraft. The rotation starts in the clouds and connects to the ground.

Landspouts form when a thunderstorm cloud is still growing, meaning there is no rotating updraft.

The condensation funnel forms near the ground where boundaries are present with converging winds.

The funnel then is pulled upward from the ground to the base of the growing thunderstorm.

Landspouts typically don’t last long, but can still produce damage, with winds inside getting as high as 100 miles per hour.

No damage has been reported from the landspout that was spotted near Yorktown in northwestern Bureau County.